ED2014 Columns ED2014 Spoken Word ED2014 Week0 Edition

Guest tips: Let’s talk about the words

By | Published on Sunday 27 July 2014

The inclusion of a stand alone spoken word section in the Fringe programme was very welcome indeed, providing a home for the brilliant acts of wordplay that don’t necessarily set out to make you laugh (always at least), but which don’t really count as theatre. Of course quite a few ‘talks’ have now slipped into the chapter that aren’t really of the spoken word genre, and some spoken word shows still list themselves elsewhere, so it can still be a little confusing to navigate what’s on offer. But who best to help you than Richard Tyrone Jones, both a champion and a star of the spoken word scene, and a ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award winner in 2012?


As well as programming the Free Fringe’s spoken word strand, Richard has his own spoken word show ‘Crap Time Lord’ at the Pilgrim Bar in Cowgate and a comedy show comprising just five words ‘What The F*ck Is This?’ at the Banshee Labyrinth. Oh, and he’s also hosting two charity ‘Utter!’ spoken word specials with Phill Jupitus, Mark Grist, Sophia Walker etc on 12 Aug at Canons’ Gait and on 18 Aug at Banshee Labyrinth. But he still found time to put together a spoken word top five for you guys.

I wish I could plug all 70+ shows I and my PBH Free Fringe Spoken Word Co-Director Fay Roberts have programmed, but spoken word isn’t restricted to the ‘spoken word’ section of the programme. It stretches its tentacles of misery city-wide….

‘Can’t Care, Won’t Care’
A show about the role of carers in the UK might sound like the most depressing thing imaginable. Yes, it probably will be, but it’s by Sophia Walker, BBC Slam Champ and winner of PBH’s Best Spoken Word show (with 2013’s ‘8 Mistakes Around The World’), and directed by theatrical stalwart Monkey Poet, so it will also be rhythmical, powerful, true, uplifting, cutting and hilarious.
Banshee Labyrinth from 2 Aug until 24 Aug.

John Berkavitch – Shame
My 2012 almost-hit show ‘Big Heart’ fused spoken word with projected animations. But Berko’s show does that with even more projectors, a trendy hip-hop soundtrack and three breakdancers. Bastard. I’ve heard great things about this from everyone who’s seen it and I’m looking forward to gazing on in both Shame and Envy.
Underbelly, Cowgate, from 31 Jul until 24 Aug. Tickets here.

Pornography and Heartbreak – David Lee Morgan
You won’t like this show, an intense mea culpa detailing the sordid perversions of a (somewhat) fictionalised fat old John facing up to the complicity of his sexuality in prostitution and sexism, all addressed to a rape victim. Even worse, it rhymes. If you liked it there’d be something wrong; but if you’re gobsmacked into silence like the preview audience I was in, that’s the correct response. Reckless, powerful and awful – that’s a recommendation.
Banshee Labyrinth, from 2 Aug until 24 Aug. 

Standby For Tape Back-up – Ross Sutherland
If you do a show about your relationship with your dad, it’s a hit. Well, here Sutherland delivers speedy synchronous stories to looped VHS footage in a hi-tec ‘10 films with my dead Granddad’, so he can’t lose. The only VHS my Granddad left me was a hardcore porno, which would make a troublingly different show. The way Ross makes the experimental popular, and vice versa, makes him my favourite member of Aisle 16 (except for Tim Clare and all the others).
Summerhall, from 1 Aug until 24 Aug. Tickets here

Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival – Roof Slating Demonstration
Now this is what the Fringe’s spoken word section is all about! Because the reason we campaigned so hard for a stand alone spoken word section in 2012 was never to provide a home for creatively re-imagined folk tales, exciting true-life storytelling, epic literature or sonorous poetry. No, it was to promote roof slating, stone masonry and painting and decorating demonstrations with ten separate cut-&-pasted descriptions! Yes, slate can exhibit dynamic character development! No, they shouldn’t be in ‘Events’! Yes, metaphors will be layered thick as spackle, and… [okay, you’ve made your point now Richard].

LINKS: www.rtjpoet.com

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